McDade’s Bat Impresses Francona
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the 15 newcomers to the 40-man roster this winter and the role they can play moving forward.
By Ronnie Tellalian
On Friday March 15th Mike McDade was optioned to Triple-A Columbus. He will likely end up spending much of the season with the Clippers, marking the first season he will start at the Triple A level. The Cleveland Indians made an attempt to add minor league depth at first base when they claimed McDade off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on November 29. He will turn 24 in May and will be taking the place of Russ Canzler for the Clippers. The difference being McDade is four years younger.
McDade was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth round of the 2007 amateur draft. He hit 21 home runs in 2010 and reached Double A by age 22 in 2011. He hit .281 with 16 home runs in 125 games. The next season he hit .285 in 100 games with 17 home runs before moving up to Triple-A Las Vegas for the last 18 games of the season. In 243 games between Double-A and Triple-A McDade has hit .283 with 33 home runs and 56 doubles.
At his daily press conference on March 15th, Indians Manager Terry Francona was asked for his impression of McDade. He had kind words for the young first baseman.
“Actually, really good,” Francona said of the switch hitting McDade “He can hit and he can hit from both sides. I think he’s got a bright future.”
McDade has impressed the new Tribe manager this spring. He may not be ready for the big leagues just yet, but Francona isn’t worried about his bat.
“He can hit good pitching,” Francona said “He can hit velocity. He can make adjustments, put the ball in play with two strikes and he keeps the ball in the middle of the field.”
Although many scouting reports have given conflicting reports about his defensive ability at first base, the Indians are more interested in what he can do at the plate. Francona knows that McDade’s bat will map his career.
“His hitting will take him as far as he wants to go.” Francona said.
The Las Vegas 51s are formerly the Blue Jays minor league affiliate who gets their name from Area 51, located in Nevada. As of 2013 they are associated with the New York Mets and play their home games at Cashman Field, a notorious hitter’s park. The 51s play in the Pacific Coast League where the average runs per game is 5.1 and the average hitter has a slash line of .257/.328/.389. At Cashman Field players averaged 5.7 runs per game and a slash line of .298/.345/.430, a very large increase.
These numbers are reflected in McDade’s performance with the 51s. In his one month in Las Vegas McDade hit .338/.392/.493. He hit two home runs, three doubles, and smacked out 24 hits in 18 games. Of course it’s not his fault he played there, but he had a chance to show some of his bat skills in spring training this season. This is a small sample set and he faced pitchers from all levels of the game, but in 32 plate appearances McDade hit one home run, drove in 10 RBI and batted .400.
McDade will begin the year in Columbus there is no doubt of that. He provides depth at the Triple-A level should disaster strike with the Indians and he is still young enough to become a contributor at the Major League level down the road should he make improvements. Francona is impressed and I’m inclined to take him at his word, but don’t get over the moon, he still has a long way to go before he has a chance to slip into a Tribe uniform.
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer